Those tiny immobile pests that appear like small bumps on your plants are scale insects. They feed by sucking sap from plants, causing them to wilt and appear sickly. Additionally, the leaves may turn yellow and drop off.
Scale insects are of the order Hemiptera . Depending on the infestation, they can cause great damage to the garden, greenhouse, and especially to houseplants. As a result, you must get rid of them.
Scale bugs are identified as tiny shell-like bumps in clusters along the stems of plants. They excrete a sticky honeydew substance. This often leads to fungal infection and sooty mold on plants.
Here’s how to get rid of scale on plants naturally. These are some of the best home remedies and organic control methods.
1. Rub Them Off
This is the most inexpensive way to control the critters if the problem is still small. Therefore, this method is particularly useful in controlling houseplant scales.
An old toothbrush is a good tool to scrape/rub the pests off the stems. Alternatively, a slightly abrasive sponge or cotton swab dabbed in some rubbing alcohol should do the trick.
Also, check under leaves where they may be hiding. Afterward, you can spray with an organic insecticidal spray to avoid re-infestation.
2. Horticultural Oil
Purchase horticultural oil at the garden store or online. It is also known as summer oil or dormant oil. Spray all infected plants with the product as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
The oil smothers the critters. However, it may need repeat applications to entirely eliminate an infestation. Choose a dry day with low humidity and without high winds to apply it to the infected plants.
Alternatively, a DIY horticultural oil solution might be less expensive. For the recipe, combine one tablespoon of organic liquid soap with a cup of vegetable oil.
Next, take one tablespoon of this mixture and add it to a cup of water. Finally, shake well and coat affected plants with your homemade scale spray.
Use the measurement as a guide for larger portions.
Pruning is a great practice to remove tree scale insects as a bad infestation may need drastic action.
And if you act fast, this home remedy stops the pests at an early stage. It does so by preventing them from spreading to other areas. Additionally, there will be no honeydew to attract other pests.
Afterward, burn or remove pruned plant parts from the garden. Pruning may also strengthen plants and help resist further damage.
4. Beneficial Insects
This is one of the prime biological methods of controlling pest infestations. Insects like parasitic wasps and lacewings are predatory. They will prey upon small insects, including plant scales.
Plus, you can purchase most of these beneficial insects at various garden centers or online.
It is also possible to encourage them to visit your garden. Plant flowers like yarrow and cosmos to attract them.
5. Neem Oil
Neem comes from the seeds of the neem tree. Farmers have been using it for many years as a natural pesticide.
To use neem oil for scale insects, mix 2 teaspoons of liquid soap with two tablespoons of neem oil and a gallon of warm water. Finally, shake well and spray infested plants.
Alternatively, you can get this natural treatment as a concentrate with other active ingredients in organic commercial sprays.
Neem oil will block the breathing holes of these pests, suffocating them to death.
6. Insecticidal Soap
This is another excellent home remedy to treat scales on plants naturally. Make a homemade insecticidal soap spray to kill scales.
Dawn dish soap or any household liquid soap mixed with water and vegetable oil can do the trick. But, we prefer using organic soaps.
Combine 5 tablespoons of liquid soap and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil with a gallon of warm water. Shake well. Finally, spray this DIY scale infestation spray on affected plants.
You can also purchase commercially available insecticidal soaps.
7. Bug Blaster
This scale insect control method relies on a powerful jet of water to remove the critters. The apparatus consists of a ‘wand’ and nozzle. It is specially designed to kill soft-bodied pests without harming your plants.
Bug Blaster is also economical with water and any excess on plants will be absorbed usefully. However, if the pests return, repeat the process.
You can also use this tool to keep your plants clean.
Azadirachtin is one of the best insecticides for scale insects on plants. It is widely used as an organic pesticide to control many other soft-bodied insects naturally.
It works to disrupt the normal life cycle of the insects. The pests will eventually die.
Moreover, the product is harmless to most beneficial bugs, pets, and humans, as long as you use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
9. Essentria IC-3
Control many pests with this commercial product. Essentria IC-3 contains a blend of essential oils and other ingredients. It is a multi-purpose natural insecticide containing rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and geraniol.
Used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, use this plant scale treatment for spraying or misting. You can also use it for drenching surfaces and paths to eliminate or prevent pest infestations.
Essentria IC-3 is effective against white scales on plants. Additionally, with caution, you can use it directly on cattle, horses, and chickens. It also works against many other crawling and flying insect pests.
10. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
This white powder is composed of the crushed skeletons of microscopic marine creatures.
Diatomaceous earth will kill scale pests because it is mildly abrasive. It also works on many other bad insects.
The sharpness of diatomaceous earth will cut into the insect pests. This causes dehydration which leads to death.
Moreover, DE is easy to obtain. Purchase it online or from your local garden store. Dust it on plant surfaces and around the base as a preventative measure.
Scale damage on plants may be unsightly. Moreover, the pests may affect houseplants, garden flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, and vegetable crops.
Try the natural remedies above to eliminate them and keep your plants pest-free. Besides, some methods may be applied in combination for maximum effectiveness.